Dark Chapter

52 chapters/stories for my book…that’s how many I have written but the rape chapter is the hardest.

I started out being kind of namby-pamby about it. That’s the feedback I got from my mentor/auntie, an author I deeply respect. She said “Kathie, you have to remove the sugar coating and tell us what actually happened.”

It took many years, but I finally did what she asked, leaving out no disturbing detail. To that version, she responded with “Well, maybe not THAT detailed!”

So I am trying a completely different approach this time.

I am house-sitting for dear friends as I write this. I am in a situation I rarely put myself in…alone for days (and worse, nights) in an unfamiliar house, in a very remote setting. I did all the things that for me are normal when I am in any new place… checked out all conceivable exits…found the quickest routes away from the house, noticing fast exit dangers, like locked gates, stuff to trip over, etc.….discovered any weaknesses in normal security (windows, door locks) and tested how they all sound. And I found the best hiding places inside the house in case escape is not an option.

It’s a pain in the butt to be me.

The point of telling you this is that even though I have done a shitload of therapy and healing work on having been raped, one result remains the same. I live my life differently than most people.

Here’s the opening I wrote when my mentor requested a more “detailed version”, but I edited it in this draft to honor her feedback to not be THAT detailed….

If I do ever get this chapter on paper the way I want it, I will keep my original title.

What I want to know is would you want to read a story that starts like this???

“Being Raped”

Being Raped has to be the title of this chapter. The odd tense of the word “being” implies a current circumstance that captures the experience, as if describing a state of being rather than an action.

That’s why it’s perfect.

In an instant, an event like this can become the definition of WHO you are. There is a part of the act, the trauma, the experience that continues in your body, your psyche, your mind, and your heart…as if it is in fact, still happening right now, always in the present tense.

If you have been raped, the incident just goes on and on and on, granted less loudly with time. But for you, intrusion, in any form will shock your body right back awake, no matter how far into the back of your Secret’s Closet you’ve shoved that rape, hoping to keep it fast asleep.

This will be true for the rest of your life…no matter how much therapeutic work you do. No matter how deeply you are able to heal.

You will never not know the terror of being awakened with a knife at your throat.

You will never not remember the feeling of being held down in your own bed by two men.

And you will never forget the popping sound of a gun being fired, RIGHT BY YOUR HEAD, in the middle of this surprisingly quiet chaos… rousing the thought that though you may survive this knife, you still might end up getting shot!

All comments welcome! Thank you.

Black and White, Dark and Light

Black and White, Light and Dark

The link above is to a disclaimer I wrote back in January, expecting maybe to share more dark true stories, but only a couple thus far have insisted on being written.

I also wrote it when I only had a handful of followers. I am delighted and so surprised that I now have 142 amazing people who read what I write and who look at my photos. I feel so honored.

I love the exchanges I am having with so many of you. I feel like I am actually forming friendships, not something I really expected from blogging! (even though you told me I would, Karuna!) And it may be those friendships that are inspiring me to dig a bit deeper now in my sharing.

Anyway, I thought I would repeat the warning, you know, just in case you are not in the mood for “dark”. I can feel a couple of those stories bubbling up to the surface here soon.

If you do read them, I’d love a comment, any response, but especially if you think the story might have value for someone maybe working through something similar.

Thanks so much.



“featured image” above is artwork by 10 year old Julius. A gift for the wall by my writing desk.

Admiration for my Teacher/Mentor/Auntie



Jean Illesley Clarke

This is Ms. Jean Illsley Clarke.

You can Google Jean and find a number of pictures and videos, and also, references to her books, etc. She’s a very accomplished woman in more than one field. (I’ll even list some at the end of this post.) If you are a parent, a teacher or an adult educator, and have not treated yourself to some Jean Clarke, you have a treat in store.

But none of that published stuff tells you what she is like as a woman, a friend, a beloved “family” member.

The first thing you need to know is that clearly, she lies about her age. As of just a week ago, she was claiming something ridiculous like 92! But this is how she still looks! Come on!

Jean has this amazing presence and presentation that invites Guru-type adoration and attention, which she disallows in such a down to earth way, you feel her equal.

She is an unparalleled teacher and workshop presenter, who can tame the most obnoxious, disruptive students or hecklers, without them ever even knowing it…no shame from Jean…ever.

And, as my Mentor of almost forty years, more like a beloved Aunt now, she has taught me more about myself than anyone. And believe me, I have done a lot of therapeutic soul-searching about myself! That’s partly an occupational necessity…I am a Psychotherapist. (that is ONE word, by the way.) When I think I’ve reached down as dark as it gets, Jean encourages me to dig even deeper. She has helped me hang on in some of the toughest moments of my life.

Imagine this: You tell her your most painful story ever, trusting like never before, and here’s her reaction. She locks her penetrating blue eyes with yours for a long time and gently places her hand on your cheek. Then she says “Oh…(insert your name here)…”.

That’s it. That’s all it takes to know you are seen and heard and are absolutely not alone.

Seriously though, Oprah missed this one. Maybe even Dr. Phil. Not that those two should carry nearly the weight they do in terms of public opinion, but more people on the planet should know about this absolutely amazing woman, and hear about what she advocates.

My deepest admiration is of her ability to, no, her insistence on learning from absolutely everything. She is the consummate student of life. And the ultimate translator of these lessons into language the rest of us can easily understand and USE!

This is my favorite picture with Jean. It was a lovely sunset cruise around Puget Sound for our Staff R and R, after a power-packed, five day Training with about forty students.


NWFacillitators7-10 208

Jean Illsley Clarke

Jean Illsley Clarke received a bachelor of science degree from the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) at the University of Minnesota in 1948. She has been a pioneer and advocate for children and families in the state of Minnesota, across the nation, and internationally for more than three decades. She is widely recognized for her book Self-Esteem: A Family Affair that became the seminal work on how parents could raise children with healthy self-esteem.

From Amazon

Jean Illsley Clarke is an accomplished workshop leader and a nationally certified and internationally known parent educator. She is the author or co-author of several books about families including Self-Esteem: A Family Affair; Growing Up Again, Parenting Ourselves, Parenting Our Children; Time-In: When Time-Out Doesn’t Work; How Much is Enough? Everything You Need to Know to Steer Clear of Overindulgence and Raise Likeable, Responsible, and Respectful Children. Who, Me Lead A Group? is about leadership skills.

She has designed, tested, and taught accompanying courses and has offered facilitator training across America and in other countries. Her books have been translated into eight languages. The developmental affirmations have been translated into ten languages and used with groups as diverse as affluent Americans and disadvantaged South Africans. Recently she has been involved in the five research studies on overindulgence.

Overindulgence talks  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=enw942U421Q

and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z4VyMXbj1FE

Grandparenting  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ultbBYRQRVk



Half-Light #3 for WPC-the Woody


So what’s a Woody station wagon got to do with half light?? Well, growing up in the town of Pacific Beach in San Diego, if you were a true, pre-popular craze surfer, you would be up each morning at Half-Light, to high tail it down to the beach for the best and least crowded waves of the day. A tourist to the area might look out a motel window and see weird dark shapes bobbing up and down way out beyond the shore break. They might even mistake them for a flock of strange sea birds out there. Nope. Those were the most dedicated wave-riding artists…waiting for their wave…however long it took.

“Surfing is one of the oldest practiced sports on the planet. The art of wave riding, is a blend of total athleticism and the comprehension of the beauty and power of nature. Surfing is also one of the few sports that creates its own culture and lifestyle.” 


No idea who first used a Woody station wagon to drag surfboards to the beach but it became the vehicle associated with the surfing culture.


The following info from http://www.carponents.com/content/surfs-up-with-the-woodie-one-of-americas-most-iconic-cars-176

“In the early 60’s, Surfers, who spent their days riding those bodacious California waves all afternoon always seemed to be strapped-for-cash.  In need of an inexpensive form of transportation, they found they could buy woodies cheap, and that they were perfect for lugging around the long 10-12 foot wooden surfboards of the day long. 

While not really their goal, surfers prolonged the lives of countless Woodies.  It was something of a California oddity but surfers didn’t actually restore their wagons, they couldn’t afford to.  They simply kept them going.  Groups like the Beach Boys in songs like ‘Surfing Safari’ began to mention and immortalize Woodies in their lyrics, about how they were loaded up with boards and friends and driven to the California Coast and they forever became ingrained as a beloved icon of the surfing community as more and more were adopted by the laid back, fun loving culture.  The connection between surfing and Woodies became permanent.
  It’s also said that surfers were the ones who coined the term ‘woodie’. “

Now here’s the sort of personal part. For some reason, when I was a very small child, we had a Woody parked inside our fenced back yard. I honestly don’t remember why or where it came from. I don’t remember ever riding in it, although we did have another station wagon, a white mercury with red trim and red leather interior, that we rode in a lot. That Mercury was the transportation for many of the childhood adventures my Dad provided for his daughters. Most of those adventures involved deserted country roads with us riding on the opened tailgate, strapped in for safety with a make-shift rope “safety belt”. But we never rode in the Woody.

Maybe Dad had the foresight to know that old Woody was a good investment. I do remember it sitting out there until well into my adulthood. Sometimes, when I was visiting my father, a later version of a young surfer would ring Dad’s doorbell to ask about that old car in his yard. My sisters might know what happened to the old Woody. I don’t.

And here’s the really personal part. Many times as a child (according to family legend, as young as four and five years old) I would be discovered before first light, out in the back yard, with my pillow and blanket from my bed, sitting on the hood of that old Woody, all bundled up and leaning back against the perfectly slanted windshield…..doing WHAT, the adults could never figure out.

It’s no mystery to me. Though I don’t remember specifically thinking about this, I’m sure it started out as escape. Maybe if I woke up early enough, and “ran away” to the back yard, I wouldn’t have to start on all those chores no five, six or seven year old should be responsible for (changing diapers, cleaning up, making breakfast, etc.)

And to my lifelong delight, I imprinted on mother nature from those Half-Light escapes, on the absolute beauty and wonder of it all, even the most simple of its forms.

I still love the earliest morning, with its slow but dramatic light changes, the songs of awakening birds-in the spring full orchestras-and the emerging hints about weather for the day. These days, I rarely need it for “running away”, but nothing grounds me more solidly and spiritually onto the earth than sitting outside in the half-light, in almost any weather, eavesdropping on the world as it wakes up.




Absolutely Nothing is Absolute


When My Dad died in July of 2001, I was manically compelled to start writing down all my memories of him from when we were kids….my way of grieving, I suppose.

As I was writing it all down, I couldn’t believe how I was seeing my dad now….through such different eyes than I had when I was a kid. I always thought of him as warmhearted enough, but frustratingly silent and pretty absent from our family, always at work. In the grief of losing him, the memories that swamped me completely overshadowed my earlier perception.

Each story I wrote gave me an entirely new perspective. I saw my childhood events, and more importantly my father, from a whole new vantage point.

Then September 11th happened. I was so relieved that my Dad had passed before seeing that tragedy. He would have instantly wondered if he had built any of those planes. I also longed for his particular kind of council, something I’d never realized I had been receiving throughout my life. He had such a quiet, almost covert method of getting me to look at things in ways I would not have thought of on my own.

For Christmas the year he died, I gave hand made books to my sisters, niece, nephew and cousins. I covered each of the book boards with various pieces of old material that I found in my Dad’s attic. Being the oldest, I remembered all of this cloth discovered in Dad’s attic, so I picked the fabric based on the significance to that person (my baby sister’s muumuu, my cousin’s flannel shirt from when he was five years old, some pedal pushers for my middle sister, etc.) Then, I filled these homemade books with all the Daddy Stories I had recorded.

But I couldn’t stop there. Before I knew it was happening, I was writing not only childhood memories but the stories from the rest of my life too, and a theme started to surface.

Absolutely nothing is absolute.

Apparently, one of the most powerful things I learned from my Dad was that each person and each event in life can be viewed from as many angles as there are people looking. And that the passage of time that provides retrospect is not necessary for us to change our point of view. We can learn to do this in the moment….like, exactly right now.

Of course, the very first real test of this emerging theory was how do I look at 9/11? It was like jumping straight from kindergarten to a Master’s Degree. How could anyone possibly see things from the perspective of those terrorists? This began a line of thinking that has now become my ongoing mission in life; to study and somehow master the difference between absolutism and pluralism.

I never realized that this cleverly disguised lesson from Dad was exactly what I had based my Psychotherapy practice on for 30 years. I teach about Dual Realities, that more than one thing can be true at the same time. I attempt to model for and teach my clients that if we don’t understand someone, we need only to choose different perspectives from which to observe or contemplate. If we cannot tolerate another person’s actions, we can protect ourselves but maybe, just maybe, still understand their behavior. By putting ourselves in as many other shoes as we can, we might be able to see, to comprehend, to learn, to love, and eventually even forgive.

It’s an amazing way to let nasty behavior or thoughtless comments slide right off you, like water off Fluffy, the Duck’s* back, instead of taking it all so personally.

It’s really the only way to give back to its source any abuse you may have experienced and then internalized.

What also became apparent, as I was feverishly writing down every example of this I could remember, is that my life (and I’m pretty sure everyone else’s too) is simply a big old thick manuscript of stories demonstrating this exact profound phenomenon. For every sad, traumatic tale, depending on how we look at things, there is a wonderful story that could easily balance it all out….if we simply allow it to.

Turns out life is fair after all. We just have to “choose our perspective”.


*Fluffy, the Duck was the first story I ever wrote.